Bill Murray Stories


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Bill Murray Stories
"This isn't the finest example of the documentary art, but it may well be one of the most enjoyable films you see this year."

You're standing in some public toilets. Suddenly a stranger reaches around your face and covers your eyes. "No-one will ever believe you," he says, and takes his hands away again. It's Ghostbusters legend Bill Murray.

It's quite a story. Should we believe it? Why would a successful actor spend his time hanging around in toilets trolling strangers - and if it's something he does regularly, how come he hasn't been stabbed? These and other mysteries came to obsess documentary maker Tommy Avallone so much that he decided to make a film about it. Calling the star got him nowhere, so he decided to investigate the stories themselves, and discovered that there are an awful lot of them, from practically everywhere that the actor has ever visited.

He may be known for his refusal to be covered in foam in Ghostbusters when everyone else was, but it seems that no vanity got in the way when Bill gatecrashed a student party and decided to start doing the dishes. Walking into a bar (stop me if you've heard this one before), he happily befriended a bartender, asked all about his life, then got behind the bar himself and started serving people. And that's just the start of it. Much has been captured for posterity. He appears in people's wedding photos. He's filmed at their house parties, jamming with the band. Everywhere he goes, everybody has fun. And it's not just because he's Bill Murray; it's because of who Bill Murray is.

What's behind all this? Avallone explores some interesting avenues, speaking to people with whom Bill learned improv and considering the dynamics that make social situations work. He looks at the messages in Bill's films and speculates on the actor's belief system. This goes on for longer than it really needs to, with quite a bit of repetition. Are things really that complicated? One can't help but notice how much Bill seems to enjoy these impromptu encounters himself. Having the money and fame to make it possible, he comes across like a man who has simply chosen to live in accordance with the immortal words of Bill and Ted: "have a good time all of the time."

Screening at Cinepocalypse 2018, this isn't the finest example of the documentary art, but it may well be one of the most enjoyable films you see this year. It's little more than a collection of stories, but they're great stories - not because they beggar belief or because they point the way to enlightenment, but because they're warm and human and quite adorable. Because everyone who has crossed paths with Bill seems happier for it. Because they make one want to share a beer with the tellers and talk all night. This is a magic that pre-dates cinema, the simple pleasure of sharing stories, and it's just as wonderful today.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2018
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Tales from the extraordinary day to day life of Bill Murray.

Director: Tommy Avallone

Writer: Tommy Avallone, Max Paolucci

Starring: Bill Murray, John Barnhardt, Johnathan Davis, Albert DiGiacomo

Year: 2018

Runtime: 70 minutes

Country: US


London 2018

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